two people working on a unmanned aerial systems
Instructor Roberto Rodriguez, left, helps a student prepare for field practice of unmanned aerial vehicles. Photo by Kimiko Taguchi.

Planning for future workforce needs, the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo launched four new courses this semester to establish a certificate in unmanned aircraft systems, a first step in the university’s long-planned aeronautical science program.

The certificate program focuses on training in the use of unmanned aerial vehicles and offers new courses this fall that include hands-on classroom and field work in an introductory course on unmanned aerial systems (UAS), robotics (building and flying UAS), simulated missions and flying techniques.

In the field practicing flying techniques. Photos by Kimiko Taguchi

UH Hilo students who complete these four courses plus three upper-level geography classes in data interpretation, remote sensing and information systems receive a certificate in unmanned aircraft systems. According to the UH Hilo Course Catalog, “Graduates of the UAS certificate program will possess a skill set valuable in the unmanned aerial data collection field.”

“Unmanned aircraft are becoming more and more popular, with the potential being recognized by new industries every day,” said Arthur Cunningham, coordinator of the UH Hilo aeronautical science program.

More on the new UAS courses

In the introductory UAS course, students learn operational principles, laws and theory about UAS, and conclude with receiving a Federal Aviation Administration remote pilot airman certificate (Part 107) with small UAS rating, which is a pilot license to operate unmanned aircraft commercially.

Licensed aircraft operators could potentially get jobs working with companies or government agencies for infrastructure inspections, real estate photography, agricultural mapping, natural disaster assessment, natural resource surveys, law enforcement or research in almost any field that uses sensors or cameras.

UAS works well with my bioengineering background because these aircraft are able to collect data from a large plot of land using cameras, chemical sampling and water sampling,” said instructor Roberto Rodriguez. “This is especially useful for agriculture as a time and money-saving technology.”

For more on this program and the future of the aeronautical science program, go to UH Hilo Stories.

—A UH Hilo Stories article written by Jamie Josephson, a public information intern in the Office of the Chancellor